Chase Elliott gave Kyle Busch a one-finger salute after contact from Busch wrecked Elliott late in Wednesday night’s Cup race at Darlington Raceway.
Elliott was running second when contact from behind from Busch on the frontstretch sent Elliott sliding down the track into the inside SAFER barrier. Elliott finished 38th in the 39-car field.
After exiting his car, Elliott moved up the track to give Busch the one-finger gesture as Busch drove by.
After the race, Kyle Busch told FS1: “There’s no question. I know I made a mistake and just misjudged the gap. When we were racing the 11 and the 9 had a run on them and knew he had a run on him and knew I was there. I knew I needed to get in line as quick as I could. In doing so, I watched him and his momentum that was going by and then I tried to look up in the mirror and see where Harvick was to get in and I just misjudged it. I made a mistake.”
Said Kevin Harvick, who was behind the incident: “It looked to me like (Busch) completely misjudge and got the 9 (Elliott).”
Members of Elliott’s team stood or sat on pit road across from Busch’s car when the field was stopped on pit road before it was called and Denny Hamlin was declared the winner.
“He (Busch) made a mistake and I get it,” said Alan Gustafson, Elliott’s crew chief. “I don’t think (Busch) intentionally wrecked us, but you just get tired of coming out on the wrong end of those deals too often. I certainly feel like we were in position to win that race.
“(Hamlin) was in trouble on old tires and we were going to clear Kyle. You get tired of getting ran over like that. His explanation I’m sure is accurate, but it doesn’t change it.”
Busch, who finished second, said he didn’t see Elliott’s gesture.
“I thought we had protocols that we’re not supposed (to go toward the track).”
NASCAR stated to NBC Sports that Elliott would not be called to the hauler or penalized for walking toward the track to gesture at Busch.
Section 10.3.3.a Cup Rule Book details what a driver should do after an on-track incident. It includes these lines:
- After being directed to exit the vehicle, the driver must immediately proceed to either the ambulance or other vehicle as directed by safety personnel or a NASCAR Official.
- At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach any portion of the racing surface or apron
Busch said he’ll look to talk to Elliott.
“Obviously, I just made a mistake and misjudged the gap and sent him into the wall,” Busch said. “That was entirely unintentional. I’ll definitely reach out to him and tell him I’m sorry, tell him I hate that it happened and all I can do but that doesn’t change the outcome of the night. I hate it for him and his guys.”
And how to convince Chase Elliott fans of the mistake, Busch said: “I can say whatever I can say. I’ve never been a very good politician anyways. His fan base is going to have the hatred to me anyways. I just deal with what I got to deal with. Rowdy Nation will have my back and we’ll go after it after that.”